APD drop box offers place to safely discard unwanted prescriptions

An increasing awareness of the concerns surrounding the disposal of prescription drugs has spurred a local effort to provide Asheville and Buncombe County residents with a safe place to deposit unwanted medicine.

To handle the growing need, the APD has set up its own secure prescription drop box in the department for use by residents looking for a way to get rid of medication.

Leaving expired prescriptions around the house can pose a health risk if mistakenly ingested, and parents are increasingly diligent to keep drugs out of children’s hands. Meanwhile, throwing medicine away leaves them vulnerable to animals or even humans sorting through trash. And more and more people are getting the word that flushing prescriptions down the toilet has the potential to contaminate water sources.

Detective Tammy Bryson of the APD’s Criminal Drug Unit says a large number of requests from the community made it apparent that such a program was needed locally. “People were calling in once or twice a week saying, what do I do with them?” Bryson says. “Officers were running out to get them.”

The APD and the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office have participated with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation to host regular Operation Medicine Drop events like the one on Saturday, March 26, and over the past year, Bryson says, both departments have worked to establish a pick-up program for residents calling in. Even then, picking up and disposing of prescription medicine required the approval of the DEA and a federally-approved method of safe destruction. And as the program progressed, demand grew high enough that the department saw a need for its own drop off location.

“People are more aware of the risks of keeping meds around and the hazards of disposing of them improperly,” Bryson says. “If we get prescriptions out of the house and get them destroyed, it reduces the chances of something like that happening.”

“The best way to prevent the potential for tragedy from accidental poisoning is to remove the risk from the environment,” says APD Chief Bill Hogan. “The drop-box located at APD is a way we can offer a secure, convenient method of disposal for our citizens. This is an on-going effort to keep our children and our community safe.”

The box is located on the lower level of the municipal building inside the door marked Property Management on South Spruce Street and is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday though Friday. The drop box is only available to members of the public, not for commercial use and only prescription medication can be accepted, not medical waste or needles.

Prescriptions dropped off at the location are properly destroyed and disposed of by the department’s Evidence Management Section.

For more information about the medicine drop box, contact Det. Tammy Bryson at (828) 250-4628. For information on the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office’s own drop box, contact Lt. Randy Sorrells at (828) 250-4473.